LaShon Hara=Evil Speech

As is the case with most people, the things that we address in our articles are those very same things that have been cumbersome to us in our daily lives. Thus, I would like to address the topic of speaking evil of one another. What is the difference between "evil speaking" and speaking forth the truth? How does speaking emet [truth] become something evil?

There are many regulations to follow with regards to LaShon Hara, if we were following the teachings of Judaism, and a lot of them are NOT all bad, I might add! The full meaning of LaShon Hara is something that many Believers would profit from, and it would certainly alleviate the slaughter of their brothers and sisters, by the evil speech that proceeds from their mouths.

Let’s delve into God’s Word, and find out what He has to say about the phrase lashon hara, shall we?

Psalms 34:13 Keep thy tongue <03956> from evil <07451>, and thy lips from speaking guile.

According to Strong’s definition, the tongue in this Scripture is defined as:

03956 lashown {law-shone'} or lashon {law-shone'} also (in plural) feminine l@shonah {lesh-o-naw'}

The evil in this passage of Scripture is defined as:

07451 ra` {rah}

Thus, we have the phrase lashon hara [evil speaking]. Contrary to popular belief, lashon hara is NOT always a lie, or an untruth that is being uttered. In some instances, the exact truth can be spoken, and still be considered to be lashon hara. How, you ask? Let me give you an example that I encountered just recently, while on the job.

Quite some time ago, my boss had written a check for $1500 to Stroh’s Brewing Company. On a post-it note attached to the check copy, there was an instruction to give it to another employee, who is well known for having a drinking problem. As I was reviewing this file, I made light of the situation, and remarked that it must have been "some kind of party" that was thrown by the company, because it cost $1500. Then, as a side comment, I said that the check was certainly given to the person who would KNOW how to use it!!

The truth of this matter is that my boss had written the check for $1500 to the Stroh’s Brewing Company, as payment for some used equipment that he was purchasing from them. He had also instructed the other employee to deliver the check, and pick up the used equipment.

As a model of lashon hara, can you see from the above how simple it would have been for me to have gone out of the office and reiterated to everyone that my boss wrote a check to Stroh’s Brewing Company for $1500, and handed it over to the one person in the office who is KNOWN to have a drinking problem? Had I said that, it would have given the hearers the liberty to assume their own thoughts about the situation. Would the statement I made be true? Of course it would have been! I could have justified myself by maintaining the truthfulness of what I had said. Would I have committed lashon hara by making such a statement? Absolutely!! Why? Because I KNEW that what I was saying would formulate an incorrect picture of the truth of the situation, but I spoke it forth regardless. This is the full impact of lashon hara! I spoke the truth, albeit while painting a tainted picture. God finds no pleasure in this sort of tactic.

As you can see from the below definitions, evil [Strong’s #07451] takes on many nuances, when used all 663 times in Scripture:

evil 442, wickedness 59, wicked 25, mischief 21, hurt 20, bad 13, trouble 10, sore 9, affliction 6, ill 5, adversity 4, favoured 3, harm 3, naught 3, noisome 2, grievous 2, sad 2, misc 34; 663

If something we say about another brings about ANY of these end results expressed above, then it is nothing less than EVIL, and we need to repent, and ask forgiveness from God. Along with repentance and forgiveness, we need to do all that is humanly possible to correct the situation that we have promoted by evil speaking [lashon hara]. If we must humble ourselves and go to a brother or sister, then, so be it. If we need to correct statements that we’ve made to other members of the Body of Messiah, then by all means, let’s do it quickly, before it becomes a festering abscess within The Body.

If you have a good concordance, please take the time to look up the meaning of the adjective/adverb evil. You will notice that it takes on many characteristics and expressions, with some of the following ones being just a slight illustration of the full meaning:

disagreeable, malignant, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery), displeasing, bad (of value), worse than, worst (comparison), sad, unhappy, evil (hurtful), unkind (vicious in disposition), wicked (ethically)

As a noun, the following are some of the descriptive words that are attributed to the word evil:

deeds, actions, evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity, injury, wrong, evil (ethical)

Speaking true words with an ill design is always the earmark of lashon hara.

Let’s turn to the Brit Chadasha [New Covenant] to see what Sha’ul [Paul] has to say about this very same topic:

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour , and evil speaking <988>, be put away from you, with all malice <2549>: [Emphasis added]

You will notice that we now have entered into a new understanding of evil speaking, and that is described appropriately as blasphemy:

988 blasphemia {blas-fay-me'-ah}

AV - blasphemy 16, railing 2, evil speaking 1; 19
1) slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another's good name
2) impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty

We need to take notice that the full meaning of this word blasphemy, is attributable to humans AND to God! Yes, we can blaspheme our brothers and sisters, in addition to blaspheming God. This realization SHOULD put the fear of the Lord deep within our heart. If there is any doubt whatsoever exactly what God has to say about blasphemy, please do yourself a favor, and do an in-depth study of this word.

"Anything which, were it to be publicized, could cause your brother/sister monetary or physical damage or could frighten him or cause him mental anguish, is Lashon Hara." (Maimonides) To quantify Maimonides, I would like to add that if the heart intent in speaking this forth is evil, or derogatory, then it is surely lashon hara. Exposinging false doctrine is NOT lashon hara, unless one speaks evil of the "personality" of the one teaching the false doctrine, rather than addressing the doctrine itself.

In the midst of all of this, please remember that at Mt. Sinai, the Decalogue was given for our benefit. The first four commandments are concerning man’s duty toward God, and the last six commandments are with regards to man’s duty to his fellow man. Personally, I don’t think God erred when He tipped the scale in the direction of instructions to mankind! As a matter of fact, Yeshua [Jesus] delineated this even further in Matthew 22:37-39, when He commanded us to love God, AND to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Isn’t it wonderful how our Messiah can take ten commands from God, and get to the crux of the matter, by articulating all ten of them completely, within these two?

I purposely retained the Strong’s number for the definition of malice in the Ephesians 4:31 Scripture reference, as I want to note that the heart intent is what creates a foul odor in God’s nostrils, when it comes to the destruction that is promoted by lashon hara:

1) malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure
2) wickedness, depravity
2a) wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws
3) evil, trouble

As you can see, these definitions that I’ve italicized are all in reference to other human beings; they are NOT aimed toward God!

Sometimes sinful words spoken by the saints, one against another; signifies the first affront taken in the mind, against any person, and for any account. This should be expelled at once, and not encouraged, so that it doesn’t explode into lashon hara. Within the Body of Messiah, this would more commonly be known as "implosion" – meaning it will cause an explosion from within, resulting in destruction or damage to the whole structure.

Lashon hara arises from an embittered, wrathful, and angry disposition, which is very unbecoming to the person who has been born from on high, and I can assure you that God finds no pleasure in such behavior from His children. This is the type of behavior that is known, seen, and even expected, from the unregenerate person.

Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Be assured, Saints, that God is NOT saying He will remove these from you . . .oh no! God is precisely saying that WE MUST PUT OFF all of these unclean characteristics!! Ouch!! It seems fitting to me that now would be a favorable time for the Body of Messiah to take to heart this particular Scripture, and begin to let Ruach HaKodesh [The Holy Spirit] teach us what God is saying within this passage. For too long, we have been too smug in thinking that this Colossians reference means something very perfunctory, with which even a good "moral" UNbeliever can comply. I don’t think that’s specifically what God had in mind, when he inspired these words. It is time that we point the unruly rudder in the correct direction. This does NOT mean that we cannot speak for truth, it simply implies that we must have the Godly intent, and attitude, in our heart while we are speaking. We must take great care to be sure there is no evil intent, nor any destructive words spoken toward a "personality" as opposed to correcting wrong doctrine. God will deal with the personality, if we will simply retain our heart attitude to correct wrong doctrine, according to His written Word. We do not have the right to broadcast our opinions far and wide, when it comes to conflicts we may have with one of our brothers or sisters. That is an issue that we should be talking to God about, while we are on our knees in prayer for that particular person. I have no claim, nor any control, over my brothers and sisters personal life. We should always maintain the integrity of God’s Word, within our own life, and within the life of those we are co-laborers with, for the sake of the gospel.

Anger is a disposition which prompts one to inflict pain or injury. Imposing pain or injury is the foremost objective of lashon hara, whether it is intentional, or unintentional. I would encourage all of us to be angry, and sin not. (Compare Psalms 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26) A person may be said to be angry and not sin, when their anger arises from a true zeal for God and His Word; when it is ablaze not against persons, but sins. There is an anger which is sinful; as when it is without a cause; when it exceeds the line of demarcation; when it is not directed to a good end; when it is productive of bad effects, either in words or actions. Lashon hara is the full manifestation of anger, in all of its ungodly display.

The real heart of lashon hara is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Saints, be encouraged today.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Preserve yourselves by the love of God, by remaining in that intimate contact with the love of God, and He will shelter you under the shadow of His wings, in the cleft of His Rock. His chesed [mercy] is from everlasting to everlasting. Won’t you avail yourself of the opportunity today, to show forth His mercy toward another human, who may have never seen the mercy of God in action? Be the living epistle in their life.

Psalms 26:11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.

Humbly submitted for the building up of the Saints, by Anna L. Schwery
Yad b’Yad Ministries
Questions or comments on this article? Contact the author.

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